Nick sez, "I designed and laser cut a new women's room sign for my hackerspace (CCCKC/Hammerspace). The files are up on thinigiverse if anyone wants to make their own. It took a long time to figure out something that wasn't a dress to signify that a stick figure is a women. Down pigtails seem to do the job nicely and I noticed that Jackhammer Jill has them as well."
John Scalzi's "A Self-Made Man Looks At How He Made It" is a characteristically great essay about how his life's course from poverty and food stamps to fame and commercial success was only possible because of all the social programs, generous individuals, and public spending that went into his upbringing, and why this makes him proud to pay his taxes today.
My parents’ marriage did not last particularly long and in the early seventies — and off and on for the next several years — my mother found herself in the position of having to rely on the social net of welfare and food stamps to make sure that when she couldn’t find work (or alternately, could find it but it didn’t pay enough), she was able to feed her children and herself. Once again, I owe thanks to America’s taxpayers for making sure I had enough to eat at various times when I was a child.
Not having to wonder how I was going to eat meant my attention could be given to other things, like reading wonderful books. As a child, many of the books I read and loved came from the local libraries where I lived. I can still remember going into a library for the first time and being amazed — utterly amazed — that I could read any book I wanted and that I could even take some of them home, as long as I promised to give each of them back in time. I learned my love of science and story in libraries. I know now that each of those libraries were paid for by the people who lived in the cities the libraries were in, and sometimes by the states they were in as well. I owe the taxpayers of each for the love of books and words.
From kindergarten through the eighth grade, I had a public school education, which at the time in California was very good, because the cuts that would come to education through the good graces of Proposition 13 had not yet trickled down to affect me. My schools in the cities of Covina, Azusa and Glendora all had “gifted and talented” programs that allowed me and my other classmates extra opportunities to expand our minds, aided by excellent teachers, most of whose names I can still rattle off after 30 years: Mrs. Chambers, Mrs. Fox, Mrs. Swirsky, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Kaufman, Ms. Morgan. Through much of this time I was fed through school lunch programs which allowed me a meal for free or reduced rates. In the sixth grade, when again my mother and I found ourselves poor and briefly homeless, and I began feeling depressed, the school’s counselor was there to do his best to keep me on an even keel. These schools and programs were funded locally, through the state and through the federal level. The taxpayers helped me learn, kept me fed, and prevented despair from clouding up my mind.
Little Dot is about 9 years old and, like artist Yayoi Kusama, she is obsessed with dots and paints them on every surface within reach of her brush or pencil. Little Lotta is an insatiable trencherman who is unaware of her superhuman strength. Little Audrey is a blithe dilettante who casually outperforms adults of all professions. All three fiercely independent girls had their very own comic books in the 1950s and 1960s. I read many stories starring Audrey, Dot, and Lotta as a youngster, and I was delighted when Dark Horse reprinted the best of these comics in a giant, brick-heavy anthology called The Harvey Girls: Little Audrey, Little Dot, and Little Lotta a couple of years ago.
My 9-year-old daughter can't get enough of this book. She has read it over and over again. The only part she skips is the informative introduction by cartoon historian Jerry Beck, which I greatly enjoyed. It was fun learning about the writers and artists behind these books. Harvey's house style (they also did Casper and Richie Rich) is deeply weird, but also slick and appealing. These guys were master draftsmen who cared a great deal about the quality of their work, and I can easily spend hours poring over the pages of this book.
After the jump: a couple of spreads from the book (it's mostly black and white, but there are about 80 pages in color).
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Jeff sez, "King County has voided the license it issued Tuesday between Corporate Person, a Washington State Corporation, and Ms. Angela Marie Vogel: 'Marriage is a civil contract between a male and a female who have each attained the age of eighteen years, and who are otherwise capable.'"
Jonas Gahr Store, Norway's foreign minister, has written a NYT op-ed explaining why his country refused to treat the mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik any differently from other criminals -- because Breivik's cause is served by treating him as a sort of criminal superman whose crimes are so special that normal justice can't apply to them.
Confronting and undermining the narratives and ideas of extremism must therefore be one of our key tasks. To do this, we must retain the courage of our convictions in the face of extremism.
Virtually all modern forms of extremism accuse liberal Western democratic systems of being hypocritical and, ultimately, weak. Al Qaeda portrays the West as anti-Islamic imperialists masquerading as promoters of democracy. Right wing extremism suggests the West is committing cultural suicide through its lax judicial system and naïve multiculturalism.
Both have committed horrific acts designed to bait us into betraying our values and making them martyrs. In fact, it is remarkable to see the many similarities between these two sorts of extremism in their disdain for diversity and their indiscriminate violence against civilians.
In this context, it is a mistake to treat crimes committed by extremists as exceptions, subject to special processes. They must be held accountable in accordance with and to the full extent of the law. Hiding suspects from public view merely dehumanizes the perpetrators and undermines any moral or judicial lessons.
Hurray! John K. is creating a new cartoon about one of my favorite characters: George Liquor. I was laughing out loud while watching this video. I wish he had a video show where he talked about stuff like this every week!
Hi cartoon fans! I’m John Kricfalusi (creator of Ren and Stimpy). I have a new cartoon I need your help in producing. It stars one of the original Ren and Stimpy characters, Mr. George Liquor, AMERICAN! You loved him in Dog Show and Man's Best Friend. Now bring him to life in CANS WITHOUT LABELS!
George is an old school, manly, Republican sort of guy. He thinks today’s Republicans are wimps. He’s leathery on the outside but all mush in the center, at least with his dear ones. He believes in “tough love” and lives his life according to the rules. “It’s Discipline that begets love!”
HOW DID I COME UP WITH THIS PREPOSTEROUS STORY?
IT REALLY HAPPENED - THAT'S HOW! George is largely inspired by my own manly Dad.
Dad believes in the old values: hard work, rules and most important of all – SAVING A BUCK! Wasting money is a sin against Almighty Bejeezus. Hang on to every last penny and put it away for a rainy day, or face the consequences!
Like my Dad, George craves a bargain. He'll not pay sticker price for anything. He ONLY buys stuff on sale and refuses to buy any brand name products.
Brand Names are a Commie Scam!
Dr. Sally Ride, an American physicist and former NASA astronaut, has died of pancreatic cancer. She joined NASA in 1978, and in 1983 became the first American woman to travel into space. From a statement on her website:
Sally Ride died peacefully on July 23rd, 2012 after a courageous 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, joy, and love. Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless.
Sally was a physicist, the first American woman to fly in space, a science writer, and the president and CEO of Sally Ride Science. She had the rare ability to understand the essence of things and to inspire those around her to join her pursuits.
In this 1945 Life ad, a giant baby exacts a vicious turnabout-is-fair-play revenge on his mother, who failed as a parent an a human being by using the wrong skin-care products on him.
Artist Ray Caesar, who uses 3D design software to create his work, has a new series available at Gallery House. Shown here: La Chambre, 2012.
Tor.com has published an excerpt from my forthcoming YA novel Pirate Cinema, a book set in the UK in which a gang of squatter guerrilla filmmakers take on the entertainment industry and their pals in the government to save the world from corrupt, brutal anti-piracy laws.
Booklist gave it a starred review, saying " ...Doctorow’s series starter is his most cogent, energizing call-to-arms to date, an old-fashioned (but forward-thinking) counter-culture rabble rouser that will have dissidents of all ages dying to stick it to the Man... It’s generally accepted that fussing with computers is a narrative buzzkill, yet Doctorow’s unrivaled verisimilitude makes every click as exciting as a band of underdog warriors storming a castle. It’s not exactly Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book (1971), but with its delirious insights into everything from street art to urban exploring to dumpster diving to experimental cinema, it feels damn close."
“I’m Lawrence Foxton, a Police Community Support Officer here on the estate. I don’t think we’ve met before, have we?”
Police Community Support Officers: a fake copper. A volunteer policeman who gets to lord his tiny, ridiculous crumb of power over his neighbors, giving orders, enforcing curfews, dragging you off to the real cops for punishment if you refuse to obey him. I knew Larry Foxton because I’d escaped his clutches any number of times, scarpering from the deserted rec with my pals before he could catch up, puffing along under his anti-stab vest and laden belt filled with Taser, pepper spray, and plastic handcuff straps.
“I don’t think so, Mr. Foxton.” Mum had the hard tone in her voice she used when she thought me or Cora were winding her up, a no-nonsense voice that demanded that you get to the point.
“Well, I’m sorry to have to meet you under these circumstances. I’m afraid that I’m here to notify you that your Internet access is being terminated, effective”—he made a show of looking at the faceplate of his police-issue ruggedized mobile—“now. Your address has been used to breach copyright through several acts of illegal downloading. You have been notified of these acts on two separate occasions. The penalty for a third offense is a oneyear suspension of network access. You have the right to an appeal. If you choose to appeal, you must present yourself in person at the Bradford magistrates’ court in the next fourty-eight hours.” He hefted a little thermal printer clipped to his belt, tore off a strip of paper, and handed it to her. “Bring this.” His tone grew even more official and phony: “Do you understand and consent to this?” He turned his chest to face Mum, ostentatiously putting her right in the path of the CCTV in his hat brim and over his breast pocket.
I'm gonna say this right now: What you're about to read is a wonderful idea. Russell Crowe, whose name was thrown around at one point to play late comedian Bill Hicks in a biopic, has now said he'd rather make his directorial debut with a different actor in the leading role. There's something about that turn of events that seems so classy for some weird reason, but it also makes me think that Crowe is a big Bill Hicks fan, and I love finding out that famous people are fans of things. But back in reality-land: production on this movie could start as soon as early 2013. Casting will certainly be a very interesting process, and that coveted role will most likely go to a British guy. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
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Leo Gonzalez, an LA area comedic actor and library assistant, pointed out the stark contrast between KCAL's and KTLA's take on the Anaheim police response to a protest of a police shooting. Embedded above, KCAL's report shows video of police unleashing a snarling police dog on women and children. KTLA's report has an entirely different tone.
At Facebook, Leo notes: "The KTLA report might've been an hour later, but they didn't include any of the footage that KCAL had."
Judge for yourself; it seems surreal to me.
France's Mont-Saint-Michel island and commune as seen from the Pléiades satellite. (via Nat Geo)
Okay, so this happened: Madonna had a show in Scotland on Saturday (part of her world tour, going on since late May) in which she and her dancers "waved" a bunch of fake machine guns and pistols, despite what happened in Aurora, Colorado a day before involving actual machine guns and pistols. She was warned against using such questionable props (which are actually banned in Scotland), but ignored the warnings and used them anyway, her staff claiming that nothing should stand in the way of "art." I'm sure the only thing we're missing here is context. Comforting, sense-making context... Oh, that was it? Madonna is just going out of her way to be an asshole and claim "art"? Okay then! Let's bolt all possible projectiles to the ground and handle this together.
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[Video Link] 2 teams of magicians get an hour to create original magic routines. Here's the catch: The routines must incorporate four [preselected] props (chopsticks, beach balls, erasers, fake oranges). After the hour is up, the magicians will perform their tricks before a panel of judges. Only one team can win. We call it...Wizard Wars.
Redditor Amiziras posted this photo of several nested trucks, taken last year in West Street, Bedminster, Bristol.
Pickup on a truck on a truck on a truck (imgur.com) (Thank, Sam!)
About a month ago, I wrote here about my struggle to decide what to do after I found out that my pregnancy wasn't going to be viable. This morning, I went on New Hampshire Public Radio's Word of Mouth to talk about that decision, miscarriage in general, and some of the ways that this issue connects to larger discussions in the public realm.
Word of Mouth doesn't have embedding available, but you can go to their website and listen to the full interview. One of the key things that I got to talk about today that I didn't mention in my previous post is the way that anti-abortion laws have huge (presumably unintended) consequences for women who miscarry. Case in point: Fetal personhood. If you give a fetus all the rights of a living human from the moment of conception, how do you deal with the fact that some 50% of conceptions end in miscarriage? Today, if a living human being dies and we don't know why, there's an investigation into the nature of their death, to make sure it wasn't caused by foul play. Under some of these proposed laws, women like me would have to spend the incredibly painful weeks after a miscarriage attempting to prove that we didn't cause it. That gets doubly difficult when you consider the fact that, quite often, nobody knows why a specific woman miscarried. Around 50% of miscarriages are caused by random chromosomal mutations. But we have no idea why that happens (or why it happens to some women multiple times), and that also leaves a big, hard-to-diagnose group of women who would have no way of proving that they didn't cause their miscarriage.
In fact, being able to choose to have an abortion—to get a D&C procedure instead of waiting for the miscarriage to happen naturally—was actually what enabled me to know what caused my miscarriage. Having a D&C makes it easier for doctors to collect enough fetal tissue that they can run a genetic analysis on it. Last week, I got back the results of the chromosomal analysis performed on my fetus. Turns out, he had a mutation, Trisomy 16, that was completely incompatible with life. That trisomy is the most common genetic cause of miscarriage. It's also completely random. Basically, my miscarriage was bad luck. Knowing that makes me feel so much better. It's almost hard to describe the relief. And I owe that to an abortion.
Researchers at MIT used network theory to put together a model of how an infectious disease might spread around the world with the help of American airports. The model shows which features—geography, connectivity, levels of use—most impact the spread of disease and use that to predict which airports would be at the heart of an outbreak.
Some are not a shock. ("Oh, you say JFK and LAX could serve as worldwide hubs for disease?") But the model also reveals some surprising spark points. Like, say, Anchorage. It's also interesting to see the order that the model ranks airports in. Would you believe that Honolulu has more disease-spreading power than Atlanta?
Read the full journal article at PLOS One, an open-access scientific journal.
Read a short summary at the Nature Medicine blog
Last week I interviewed Ryan Holiday, author of the book, Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator. The post included an excerpt from Holiday's book, which focused on his interactions (as director of marketing for American Apparel) with a journalist for Jezebel named Irin Carmon. Carmon (who is now at Salon) wrote an essay in response to the chapter in which she claims the chapter is full of inaccuracies.
Posting emails with speculative headlines was not my favorite part of working at Jezebel, nor was writing a half-dozen or so times a day. I agree with Holiday that neither are particularly conducive to journalistic enterprise. (That’s partly why, after two years, I moved on to Salon, with a different pace and editorial mission.) My favorite part about working at Jezebel was being part of a raucous, funny, feminist community on the Internet that also wasn’t afraid to call people out, even people we liked, when the occasion warranted it. I also learned how the sometimes raw tools of the Internet — emotion, immediacy, direct access to primary sources — could be used for good as well as gossip. They could mean the difference between well-meaning and unread and well-meaning and widely-discussed.
But in Holiday’s formulation, sexism or discrimination aren’t real, they’re just something he uses as a way to sell products. No one actually believes in what they write or the issues they’re writing about, because, Holiday claims, we are all motivated by a desire for attention or money. I’ll freely admit that like most writers, I prefer my work to be read and I like to be paid for my labor. But you know what reliably gets more traffic than articles about gender or, the beat I’ve been on for several years now, politics and reproductive rights? Cats and iPhones. You know who reliably makes way more money than journalists? PR people and authors of self-aggrandizing tell-alls.
Strangely, though Holiday’s criticism hinges on using me as the poster-child of bloggy disregard for reporting, the two other stories he cites are examples of old-fashioned newsgathering. It’s true that, in one of the cardinal benefits of Internet transparency, they came from a clearly-stated point of view, in this case a feminist one.
Take the story about women on the Daily Show. Holiday says this story was a “lie” because he doesn’t believe I contacted the show for comment, because he claims I relied solely on anonymous sources, and because the women working on the show issued an open letter disputing the piece. Let’s start at the top. “Did Carmon really send repeated requests for comment to The Daily Show?” he asks. “Who did she contact? Did she provide time for them to respond? Or is it much more likely that she gave the show a cursory heads-up minutes before publication?” The answers: Yes; the publicist I’d worked with on past stories; yes, a week; nope. (You can read the emails here). Ad hoc efforts to reach current staffers through unofficial channels were unsuccessful. In the end, the piece had interviews with five named sources — three former correspondents, one former executive producer, one former high-ranking writer — plus anonymous accounts from a show insider and a former correspondent who both asked not to be named because they feared alienating their powerful former employer. I also quoted a female comedian who had auditioned repeatedly for the show.
"Wheatley," an orb-shaped robot pal in Valve Software's popular 2011 game Portal 2, is on his way to space. The unauthorized stowaway is on a Japanese spacecraft now in Earth orbit, heading to the the International Space Station (ISS).
[Wheatley] is flying aboard the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA's) H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) that launched on Friday (July 20) to resupply the space station. The character, in miniature two-dimensional (2-D) form, is soaring through real space thanks to an unnamed NASA worker.
Valve announced on its website's blog that "thanks to an anonymous tech at NASA, Wheatley is actually going to actual space."
The one-eyed sphere, or "personality core" as referred to in the video game, is given its voice by English actor and comedian Stephen Merchant. On board the HTV, which is nicknamed "Kounotori or "white stork", the robot's voice is offered in the form of a phrase engraved under Wheatley's likeness — "In spaaaaaaace!" (Portal 2 players may associate that quote with another of the game's personality cores, the so-called "Space Core," though Valve attributes it to Wheatley on their blog.)
Photo: this image posted on Valve's website shows "what appears to be a circuit board with Wheatley's likeness laser-inscribed in one corner," according to Pearlman. We don't know the scale of the component, or the instrument it's part of.
Famed New Orleans musician "Uncle" Lionel Batiste presided over his own wake last week. His embalmed body was propped up against a prop lamp post inside the funeral home. “He looks better today than when I saw him the Thursday before he died,” Storyville Stompers tuba player Woody Penouilh told the Times-Picayune. “Heaven is agreeing with him.” For Chris Granger's lovely photo gallery of Batiste standing in state: "'Uncle' Lionel Batiste gets sendoff as unique as the man himself"
“He was clumsy, working his way down the cliff trying to catch up with the rest of the herd,” said hiker (Coty) Creighton. “With the binoculars I could clearly see it was a guy dressed up in a homemade goat suit.”
Creighton says the suit was big and furry and the man also wore heavy gloves so he could crawl on his hands and knees.
The World Intellectual Property Organization has been working on a treaty to protect the rights of disabled people with regard to copyright since 1985. Most of the world's rich countries and developing nations support this work. However, two key entities are stonewalling and holding up the treaty: the European Commission (despite strong support from the European Parliament); and the USA, whose trade negotiators are listening to big business lobby groups like the Association of American Publishers, who oppose any treaty that creates rights for information users instead of corporations.
The idea of the treaty is to harmonize the rights of disabled people in different countries. For example, in the USA, it's legal to make assistive editions of books -- audiobooks, ebooks, Braille and large type books -- without permission from the copyright holder. The same right exists in Canada. But Canadian groups like the Canadian National Institute for the Blind can't just import those assistive editions and offer them to their members -- they have to incur the substantial expense all over again. Some countries include people who have other disabilities (such as the inability to turn pages due to paralysis or arm injuries or other disabilities) in their disabled access laws. Some don't. Some don't have any such laws at all. It's a mess, and the cash-strapped, volunteer-run organizations that serve some of the most vulnerable people on Earth are unable to cooperate across borders to assist one another.
The USA's stonewalling has put the treaty into a kind of limbo. Most of us, if we live long enough, will be visually disabled to some extent. That means that most of us would someday benefit from a treaty that provides access to disabled people. And that means that we are all being held hostage by the US Trade Representative's sucking up to a few special interest lobbies.
What's up with the White House? To understand the position of the United States, listen to last week's interview with Alan Adler of the Association of American Publishers (here). What Adler is saying is that his membership opposes a treaty, not because of what the treaty would do in the context of persons with disabilities, but because it would set a precedent that a copyright treaty could focus on the rights of users rather than copyright owners, and that precedent can spread to other areas, where publishers have a real economic interest, such as the education and library markets. This is basically the Obama position for the past three years -- to push disabilities groups to accept some lesser non-binding recommendation, rather than a treaty.
Right now the United States delegate will only say that the issue is being reviewed within the government. The three major decision makers on this issue are Maria Pallante of the United States Copyright Office, Ambassador Ron Kirk who serves as head of USTR in the White House, and David Kappos at USPTO. Most people believe USTR has been a problem, and we are told that Pallante (who earlier supported PIPA/SOPA) has yet to support a treaty. David Kappos is the lead agency on this, and if he wanted a treaty, we would have an agreement at WIPO by Wednesday to recommend a diplomatic conference for to take place 2013.
In the United States Congress, there have been no hearings and little interest in the issue. Senator Harkin, who Chairs the Senate HELP Committee and has jurisdiction over disabilities issue wrote a strong letter in support of the treaty approach: http://keionline.org/node/1397. Senator Leahy chairs the Judiciary committee, which has jurisdiction over copyright law. Like Pallante, he supported PIPA/SOPA. When we meet with Senator Leahy's office, we were told he was opposed to a treaty -- because it would require the United States to amend its law, to permit the export of accessible copies of copyright works to blind people in other countries -- something now illegal under US law.
On July 14, during the Marvel panel at Comic Con, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige revealed that the studio's second big movie for 2014 (following Iron Man 3) was going to be Guardians of the Galaxy, and that one of the characters would be Rocket Raccoon. A couple of weeks before that, in late June, Latino Review caught wind of this information and started reporting on it.
Now, Marvel is purportedly saying that this leak was unauthorized and they want to know who did it and no one gets hurt. Latino Review reports receiving a very passive-aggressive email on the matter, and replying with a challenge: "Maybe send us a more realistically written form letter and we'll start to care."
Send from an "independent security consultant" who claims to have worked for Marvel since 1982, it accuses the editors of Latino Review of disseminating "confidential, non-public information concerning Iron Man 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy." Judge for yourself. Read the rest
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Over at our sponsor Intel's My Life Scoop site, I wrote about Minecraft, the Metaverse, and 3D printing:
"Is Minecraft the Metaverse?"
When I started playing Minecraft with my kids last year, I immediately thought of the Metaverse — the shared virtual reality system in Neal Stephenson’s now-classic 1992 science fiction novel, Snow Crash. The Metaverse was a simulated universe where people could buy or rent virtual real estate and set up a business or a home-away-from-home, furnishing it with virtual goods that cost real money. “Minecraft is the first big step towards they Metaverse,” I thought…
But, as is so often the case, reality is turning out to be stranger — and more interesting — than fiction.
GIF by Rob Beschizza
If you aren't familiar with American Boy Scouting's Eagle Scout award, it might be a little hard to explain how important this story really is.Read the rest